Every year, students in grades 3-8 and 11 complete state tests. These assessments provide useful information for students, parents and schools, but are only one measure of students' academic success.
Testing has changed:
The new Smarter Balanced assessments replaced the previous OAKS state tests of math, reading and writing. The new tests are different from Oregon's previous tests in several ways.
Students are challenged to think critically and analytically, and apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems. These are not the multiple-choice tests students experienced in the past.
The questions are interactive and go deeper, allowing students to explain their answers, engage with texts, and build equations.
The tests match the content and skill standards Oregon has adopted to better prepare students for college and careers. They measure the skills and information your child has been learning in class.
State testing this spring:
Students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the Smarter Balanced tests (or Oregon Extended Assessment, for certain students with disabilities) this spring between Feb. 9 and June 10. Most students participate in state testing, but parents have the right to opt out if they choose. An information notice about state testing and out-out request form were mailed to current students' families as well as available online below. To ensure enough time to arrange for alternative activities the district requests forms be submitted no later than 10 days prior to the scheduled test date.
The Smarter Balanced test was designed by a group of educators, researchers, policymakers and community groups across the country – including more than 250 Oregon teachers. The tests have gone through rigorous field testing, but as with any assessment tool, the test will continue to evolve and be refined over time.
How is the test different from the old tests (OAKS)?
The Smarter Balanced test is designed to provide teachers, and parents, with more accurate and meaningful information about what students are learning and where they need additional support on their path to college and career readiness.
Smarter Balanced is a performance-based test that asks students to show how they are able to use all of the information and skills they've developed during that year to solve problems. OAKS was a multiple-choice test that focused on choosing the correct facts, not problem-solving and critical thinking.
The Smarter Balanced questions will allow students to explain their answers, interact with texts and build equations. The test is administered online (as were previous tests), and is adaptive – the difficulty of future questions is based on the student’s previous answers.
Won’t it take longer for a student to complete this kind of test?
The Smarter Balanced tests may take longer than the previous state tests (OAKS), but students will be able to take the test over multiple days. Many students will spend less time in testing overall since students will take the Smarter Balanced test just once per year, whereas students were allowed to take the OAKS test multiple times.
How are teachers helping students get ready for Smarter Balanced?
SPS curriculum has already been shifting in the direction of deeper understanding of concepts in anticipation of the new standards. In language arts, students will be doing more reading from informational texts, more writing, and will be asked to use evidence to support their ideas. In math, students will be diving in deeper to fewer topics. The focus will be on making sure students really understand the concepts they are applying. In science, social studies and other subjects, students will also be asked to read and write more.
How can parents help students get ready for Smarter Balanced?
Parents are encouraged to support the Common Core goals at home by encouraging writing and discussing the readings students bring home. In conversation, urge your students to provide evidence for their statements. In math, parents should be aware of the concepts their kids are learning and encourage them to apply what they know in real-world contexts at home.
How can you expect students to do well on such a new test?
Historically, it has been typical to see a drop in performance when new state tests are implemented. Because the format of the tests will be new, students and parents should be prepared to receive lower scores than usual at first.
What about students who’ve already passed OAKS in 11th grade?
These students will not need to participate in Smarter Balanced testing.
Do these tests support students with special needs?
The tests are designed to provide accurate measures of achievement and growth for all students, including those with disabilities or who are English Language Learners, by addressing visual, auditory and physical access barriers. Multiple accommodations will be available to students, such as Braille, closed captioning, etc.
your student took state tests in a Springfield school last spring, the
results have been mailed to you to provide information about your
student's learning progress. Standardized test results provide a useful
"temperature check" on how students and schools are performing toward
the learning standards and where extra attention is needed.
Where can I find my school's test results?
The State of Oregon produces a report card for each public school and school district each year. The report cards include information on student test scores, school staff, attendance and other factors. School report cards can be found online here.
What if I would like to opt out of having my child participate?
The state recently changed the requirements for parents choosing to opt-out their student from the Smarter Balanced Assessments.